Refereed Journal Special Issues
The aim of this themed issue is to invite critical reflections upon a broadly defined understanding of 'gifting' and its purchase on enduring interdisciplinary issues and debates (such as 'cost-benefit' scenarios) centered on culture/nature, human/nonhuman, self/other and foreign/familiar bifurcations.
It begins with a series of questions about gifting as ontology: Can gifting be 'embodied' if it has no presence and is only an economic relation? If giving is often corporeal and non-volitional, then what about gifts between humans and other-than human bodies? How might we recognize and respond with such gifts, for instance the corporeal gifting of 'companion species', natural disasters, health, symbioses, ecology, nano-engineering, reproduction and so on? If we can enter into relations of give and take with nonhuman others, what about their relations with each other? Can we imagine giving or gifting as a condition beyond human life, or even beyond life? What is lost and what is gained - what ethical openings and forclosures are enabled - by such a radical extension? Contributions are welcomed from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities including philosophy, critical theory, cultural studies, post-colonial studies, history, literature, art history, film studies and the visual arts, geography, sociology, gender studies, queer theory, biology and physics.
Feminist scholars and activists recognize that 'the human' materially encompasses a very small proportion of the enormous diversity of living and nonliving matter on earth. Environmental feminists, for instance, have long attempted to engage with the biosphere from the perspective of humanity as a recently arrived, temporary and rather unruly tenant. At the same time, feminists are cognizant that fetishistic engagements with science adn technolgoy (for instance in calls to address environmental crises through technological fixes and in assumptions that solutions to world problems such as world poverty will come from scientific 'discoveries' such as genetically modified foods) necessitate remembering the majority of humanity, whose poor material conditions demonstrate that techno-scientifically-driven 'progress' is unevenly distributed and can work to entrench existing inequalities. These tensions necessarily engage long-standing philosophy of science debates concerning larger ontological and epistemological assumptions, to which feminist scholars have provided significant, timely and diverse inputs. We particularly welcome theoretical and/or empirical interdisciplinary contributions from emerging and established scholars interested in engaging different conceptualizations of what constitutes the nonhuman (can the nonhuman be ontologically differentiated from the human, for instance?) and different epistemological approaches, including standpoint approaches to the body, posthumanism and so on. We also encourage contributions concerned with visual cultures (film, video, art and other media) and the visual forms the nonhuman might take.